[INTERVIEW] ADB, Korean firms work toward socio-economic development in Vietnam
Steven Schipani, unit head of Project Administration at the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Viet Nam Resident Mission, poses after a recent briefing about the mission's projects in Hanoi. / Korea 토토사이트 Times photo by Yi Whan-woo
By Yi Whan-woo
HANOI ― The presence of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Vietnam is more established than many Korean travelers may think.
The ADB has been a key player in removing masses of tangled overhead cables and wires in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and burying them underground.
The Manila-headquartered financial institution has also joined in ongoing construction of a Hanoi subway line in front of Daewoo Hotel, which is popular among Korean tourists.
In terms of cooperation with Korea, some of the ADB's 44 active projects ― worth $6.9 billion combined ― in Vietnam involve Seoul-based companies such as Hyundai Engineering and SK Engineering.
ADB and Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank) are among the six international institutions that account for roughly 80 percent of the Vietnamese government's foreign borrowing.
The four others are the World Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the French Development Agency and the German Development Bank.
"ADB supports Vietnam's efforts to install more efficient, sustainable power supply in its largest cities as part of our energy sector operations," Steven Schipani, the unit head of the ADB-Viet Nam Resident Mission's Project Administration, recently told The Korea Times in Hanoi regarding the ADB's role in removing a significant portion of the overhead electricity and telecommunication cables in the Vietnamese capital.
Joining the ADB 10 years ago, Schipani has worked in the Philippines, Thailand and Laos ― all of them hosts to one of more than 40 ADB offices scattered around the Asia-Pacific ― before working at the Vietnam mission.
The removal of the cables was made under the Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City Power Grid Development Sector Project.
"ADB-financed projects are anchored on a country partnership strategy, prepared in consultation with government and other stakeholders," he said.
The 44 projects are normally designed to run for five years, in accordance with the Vietnamese government's socio-economic development plan that also runs for five years.
The projects range from transport to urban development, energy, agriculture, natural resources, health and education.
The transport sector accounts for the majority of the projects in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, to help Vietnam tackle traffic congestion and improve air quality and make the urban areas "more livable," according to Schipani.
And this is how the Hanoi Metro Project Line 3 started, he explained, with Hyundai Engineering and Construction ― a top 10 Korean construction firm ― being one of the contractors.
"The government highly prioritizes improving mass transit in the large urban areas. So we're supporting the metro project through our transport sector operations," Schipani said.
Scheduled for completion by 2023, the project will connect Hanoi's western suburbs and its central area near Hanoi Railway Station through mass transit railways.
Another major Korean construction firm, SK Engineering and Construction, is also involved with the ADB as a consulting firm.
The government is investing heavily in strengthening the city's infrastructure through the improvement of its transportation system to cater to the growing number of international tourists.
The country welcomed 18 million international visitors, with Korea ranking second place, followed by China with 4.2 million.
"Tourism is linked to trade and may other sectors, so boosting tourism helps make Vietnam's impressive economic growth more inclusive," Schipani said.
To help bolster Vietnamese tourism, the ADB has partnered with the ASEAN-Korea Centre and other international organizations to implement capacity-building activities and provide advisory services to the government.
Established in 1966, the ADB aims for prosperity, inclusivity, and sustainability in Asia and the Pacific region, with the additional goal of putting an end to poverty.
Its seven priorities are addressing remaining poverty and reducing inequality; tackling climate change and enhancing environmental sustainability; promoting rural development and food security; fostering regional cooperation and integration; accelerating progress in gender equality; making cities more livable; and strengthening governance.